Dehumanizing the other party

It’s well known that to continue a campaign of war, genocide, or similar effort, you have to convince yourself (and others, if you are the leaders of these movements) that the other side is less than human. In the war on terror, the terrorists are a “group of folks” who are intent on bringing down civilization, so we must eliminate the barbaric threat, for instance.

What is disturbing to me is that I’ll see liberals and conservatives (usually card-carrying members of one political party or another) employ the same techniques. To sustain a hatred of Bush, people have had to equate him with the fringes of the party, embodied in the Fundamentalist Right. Of course, Bush has to tip his hat to these people, but, as has been evidenced in his “mandate” speech, he certainly isn’t one of them. On the flip side, people have had to equate liberal with communist or socialist to keep up a hatred of that group. If you don’t believe me, go ahead and count the number of times a blogger has quoted a “democratic underground”: or “free republic”: post and passed it off as mainstream party thought.

Why can’t we all get along? Because we’ll have to lose our illusions, and that’s hard work.

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